Willow Wood’s Dementia Café has gone virtual and also increased its frequency from twice each month to once a week. Specialist Dementia nurse Nic Lavery explains:
“Those living with or caring for someone with, Dementia can find it very isolating under the best of circumstances. Social distancing has just added to the problems our patients and their carers face, and if they have to shield due to other health issues. You can imagine just how difficult the past weeks have been.
Fun & Friendship
“Under normal conditions, we hold our Dementia Café in the large day services lounge at Willow Wood. With around 40-50 people attending every time, it very quickly became a fixture in their diaries. I and Sandra, Willow Wood’s other Dementia nurse, were there for support and advice along with a number of volunteers and other members of staff. However, we soon realised that for the carers the fun and friendship they found there was a vital part of the mix. For some, it could be their only social outlet. The chance to have a chat and a laugh over a coffee and a cake gave them some much-needed relief and relaxation.
“Since people can’t come to the café at the moment, we decided to take the café to them. Initially, we were going to keep the same dates and hold it on the second and fourth Friday of the month. But after the first one, it was apparent to us that the carers got so much out of it that we very quickly decided to hold it every week.
“We’re still there for help, advice and support. Although we have a loose agenda, it’s led by the carers. We talk about what they want to talk about, it is their café. In fact, I’d prepared a quiz for the first one to break the ice, but we didn’t use it. The chance to see and chat with each other was all the carers wanted.”
The Virtual Dementia Café is held over Zoom at 1 pm on Friday, and if you would like to join in just email firstname.lastname@example.org and Nic will send you the code. And if you’ve never used Zoom before there’s no need to worry, Willow Wood’s medical director Dr Patrick Fitzgerald has put together a very easy to follow, step-by-step video guide, available on www.willowwood.info. You don’t even need a computer. As long as you have a smartphone or tablet you can meet up with the members of the virtual café.
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